Friday, August 5, 2011

Humping and Cancer

Since my parents adopted me they have gone back and forth about having me neutered.  At first, when I was 1 and full of energy, they liked the idea - especially when the vet said intact males have an extremely high rate of being killed by cars. 

Now I'm 2.5 years old, and I'm a pretty mellow guy.  The one problem is sometimes I hump other dogs...  Never at the dog park!  It only happens if I'm around the other dog for a few days consecutively.  I've tried it with Cody (...yup) and Riley (cougar).

What it really comes down to is cancer

Can you guess the death from cancer rate in Golden Retrievers?  According to the article When Cancer Comes With a Pedigree by Melinda Beck (Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2010) it's 60% - twice the average rate for all breeds!  This statistic includes three types of cancer:
  • Lymphoma - "a cancer of the white blood cells"
  • Osteosarcoma - "a cancer of the bones"
  • Hemangiosarcoma - "a particularly nasty cancer of the cells that line the blood vessels whose first symptom may be sudden death."
Despite this disheartening news, Beck provides some tips to minimize the risk of cancer:
  • Avoid second-hand smoke (My dad has been smoke free for 4 weeks today.  I was a major factor in this decision!  Thank you, Dad!)
  • Avoid pesticides
  • Avoid phenoxy herbicides
  • Maintain a healthy weight
My mom always tells me I remind her of Sundance, the dog her parents got two years before she was born.  He lived until age 14 when he was put to sleep in 1996.  He was intact and was not put down because of cancer or other health issues - it was old age.  After that was Chelsea, a spayed female who died suddenly at 13, and most recently Libby (Liberty) who had cancer throughout her body at age 9 last autumn.  That track record alone shows why my mom would choose not to have me fixed. 

Next article: Can We Neuter Cancer in Dogs? by Kevin Hahn, HVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVIM.  Hahn starts the article saying he reviewed information from the past 30 years about hormones and cancer in dogs.  Check out his conclusions:
  • Neutering eliminates the risk of testicular carcinomas
    • Bye-Bye Balls: 1 | Keep my Manhood: o
  • Prostate cancer is 4x greater in neutered males
    • Bye-Bye Balls: 1 | Keep my Manhood: 1
  • Bladder tumors are 0.5 to 3x greater in neutered/spayed dogs
    • Bye-Bye Balls: 1 | Keep my Manhood: 2
  • Osteosarcoma is 2x greater in neutered/spayed dogs
    • Bye-Bye Balls: 1 | Keep my Manhood: 3
Also interesting about males and females that are fixed before the age of 1 - which at this point I will never be:
  • They have a 25% lifetime risk for osteosarcoma
  • The likelihood that they develop a tumor is "significantly more likely" than an intact dog.
Well, that's enough depressing shit for one day.  It's no good to keep reading this stuff, then you become Doggie Downer.

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